May Day 2009 with Shannah Kurland

By Julianne Hing May 01, 2009

Today we’re asking people around the country one question: How do we talk about immigration reform in a time of economic recession? This is what Shannah Kurland, the Strategy and Development Coordinator with the Olneyville Neighborhood Association in Rhode Island, had to say: Shannah Kurland: I’m on my way to a rally right now. We’re doing it outside the immigration office here in Providence. There are rumors that immigration is closing the office early because they heard there "might be violence." I think it’s not about how we should be talking about it now, but how we should be talking about it all the time, all along, in terms that migration has happened all throughout history. A lot of the migration that happens is because of the economic and military decisions made by this country in the first place. When we ignore that and don’t talk about that, [immigration advocates] set ourselves up to talk about this in a defensive mode. I’m tired of glorifying how immigrants work for such low wages as if that’s a good thing. And I think the other thing, in terms of people being so apologetic, it has to stop. The wimpy postures around us really concern me, like, the whole emphasis on citizenship, citizenship, citizenship. Citizenship has always been handed out on the basis of race. You can’t depend on it as if that is going to save it for everybody. Citizenship is helpful, and convenient, but it’s not the thing that’s going to make everybody safe and happy. Family separation is a problem. We talk about how families are being broken up because families have US-born kids. Well, these families also have non-citizen kids too, and it would still be a problem that they are being torn apart. The fact of the issue is that these borders are not legitimate to begin with. People should not apologize and beg. That’s counterproductive and that misses the point. Half the people are calling us open border advocates anyway, so I’m like "f— it." We have to be more offensive, and less defensive.